Case | HBS Case Collection | February 2009 (Revised April 2011)

Yahoo! in China (A)

by Sandra J. Sucher and Daniel Baer

Abstract

In 2007 Jerry Yang, CEO of Yahoo!, was lambasted by U.S. Representative Tom Lantos, chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs, for Yahoo's role in the arrest and imprisonment of Chinese journalist and democracy advocate Shi Tao. The case describes the actions that Yahoo! had taken to grow its business in China, its handling of a government request for the identity of a Yahoo! user, and subsequent actions by the firm to respond to negative publicity and congressional inquiry. The case raises broad questions about the challenge of complying with domestic law when operating in states that do not consistently respect human rights, and satisfying stakeholders across national boundaries. It allows students to consider the practical steps that a firm can take to protect itself and its stakeholders in states where the law is not always a reliable safeguard.

Keywords: Ethics; Cross-Cultural and Cross-Border Issues; Governance Compliance; Laws and Statutes; Rights; Business and Government Relations; Internet; Information Technology Industry; China; United States;

Citation:

Sucher, Sandra J., and Daniel Baer. "Yahoo! in China (A)." Harvard Business School Case 609-051, February 2009. (Revised April 2011.)